KIERAN SHEA’s fiction has appeared in dozens of venues including Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Thuglit, Dogmatika, Word Riot, Plots with Guns, Beat to a Pulp, Crimefactory, and Needle: A Magazine of Noir well as in some beefy-looking anthologies most of which will make you question the tether of his shiny, red balloon. To his self-deprecating astonishment he's also been nominated for the Story South’s Million Writers Award twice without sending the judges so much as a thank you note. He co-edited the satiric transgressive fiction collection D*CKED: DARK FICTION INSPIRED BY DICK CHENEY and his debut novel KOKO TAKES A HOLIDAY is out now from Titan Books. Kieran divides his time between 38°58′22.6″N- 76°30′4.17″W and 39.2775° N, 74.5750° W.


Couldn't Sleep: Wrote This

Couldn't sleep last night.

Moving forward on the WIP, yeah, but I needed to take a break from all that and didn't have the energy for world building.

Kind of hoped ramming this through would put me to sleep, but no.

Nobody s throwing out flash challenges these days. Probably for the best anyway. But I kind of like flash challenges. Refreshing to channel your inner Fredric Brown every once in a while, no?



-Okay. Cyber Persona Targeting Analyst.
-Get out.
-It’s true.
-That’s your job.
-For the CIA.
-Well, sort of. Langley contracts out the stuff guys like me do. The CIA sends it to an umbrella group over in Arlington that subs the work out to smaller outfits like the one I work for.
-What’s it called?
-Where I work?
-Trust me, you’ve never heard of it.
-DC may be a city, but it's a pretty small town. You never know.
-Jupiter Global Strategies.
-It was sexier when you said the CIA.
-I know. There’s that whistle again.
-Sheesh, that woman is, like, a Nazi with that thing.
-I think it means we have ninety seconds left.
-Guess we better make them count. So, Brandon...
-You must be really smart with a fancy title like that.
-Bit of a geek more than anything.
-Well, I was thinking more edgy hipster on the crunch, but I like geeks too. Some big engineering school, right?
-Didn’t go to college.
-You didn’t?
-Proud product of the public schools. With tech they’re more interested in you passing their criteria. Everybody lies on their resumes. People I subcontract for just need worker bees that can grind without all the ego baggage. Snag a top security clearance, a bit of offsite training and you’re, like, golden. How about you? Where’d you go?
-To school? Guess.
-Mmm, okay. Let me use my super-duper deductive powers. Let’s see. Ski-tags on your jacket…cowboy boots…kind of outdoorsy so…Colorado? University thereof?
-No way. Get out of here.
-What? Was I right?
-You really are a spook.
-Well, you do have that Rocky Mountain athletic charm.
-Oh, I do do I?
-Yeah. The blonde hair, the freckles. Very sunny. Honest, I was waiting for this whole circus to cycle through and for you to sit down. The other girls here, I don’t know. They all kind of look like in ten years you just know they’re going to be sitting in traffic in some huge SUV, powering down on a nine dollar iced latte and stuffing their kids veggie snacks in biodegradable bags. Sorry. That’s me being a dick. Or maybe it’s all this DC nonsense just getting to me. Besides, you drink craft micro beer. That’s definitely a plus for any warm-blooded hetero dude on the make.
-You’re funny.
-Saw that you biked here. You ride a lot?
-To work mostly, but only when my contract work is in or around DC. Built that bike myself. Steel frame welding and everything. It’s a fixed gear track bike.
-Cool. Very austere. So, did you come from work tonight dressed like that too?
-They’re super casual at the office. Couple in my division like to spin up the bike trails on lunch, you know? Gung-ho fitness geeks, but I passed on it today.
-Wow. Spooky cyber gung-ho bike nerds. The mind reels.
-Where are you at work-wise?
-Oh, no. Nooo. You nailed Colorado, chief. Fire up those super-duper Sherlockian powers of yours.
-Okay, wow. Give me a second. Hmm…downtown? Maybe a lobbying group off Farragut North?
-Wrong. Law firm on K.
-Damn, that was my first choice.
-You are such a liar.
-Hey, I got Farragut North right.
-I get off the metro at Connecticut.
-God, I so hate it. Being a paralegal slave for a bunch of junior associates who think just because they made it through the front door there isn’t a rock isn’t tied around their stupid necks.
-Big drag, huh?
-For real. It’s like they culled every appalling frat asshole from the east coast into six floors. Whatever. I mean, the firm does do a little environmental law for all the wrong reasons but I’d like to get on the other side, you know? Fight the good fight, but hell. Jobs with a non-laughable salary at a cool non-profit take time. Might do grad school when my parents finishes licking the wounds in their bank account.
-I wouldn’t worry about it.
-Easy for you to say, mister proud product of the public schools.
-So, anyway…you. Hannah. You came here alone tonight, right?
-For a speed dating happy hour? Yeah. Too embarrassed to schlep my friends along.
-Understandable, but bold.
-You too. Bold and brave. But why not try a new angle, right? I mean, meeting people these days…it so weird and stuff, you know?
-I suppose. I don't socialize much.
-And this place?  
-Right, I know. The noise. You’d think they’d back off on the retro Mexican polka thing a bit, but I have to say the free tomatillo salsa here is pretty awesome. Gosh, there’s that whistle again.
-How much time do we have now?
-Not a lot. Twenty maybe thirty seconds?
-Guess we should wrap this up then.
-Right. Let's wrap it up. It was nice meeting you, Hannah.
-Likewise. Should we exchange information?
-That’s not necessary.
-Listen, I’m sorry it has to be like this for you, Hannah. You seem really nice.
-Huh? Sorry what has to be like for me?
-This. The end. You really should’ve been more careful about what you read at work.
-What’re you talking about?
-And sharing what you read at the law firm online, even in passing to your friends, that’s not a smart call. I slipped a nerve agent into your drink.
-You did what?
-Relax, it doesn’t hurt. The drugs now, they try to make them soft. There. You see? What did I tell you? Soft, soft, soft. Bet you didn’t even feel a thing.